SXSW 2023: 10 unmissable acts to catch at this year’s festival
SXSW returns this week in Austin, Texas (Mar 13–- 19) to showcase the latest and greatest in music, film, TV, tech and beyond. Bose and NME will be taking C23 Live to the festival, kicking off the mixtape compilation with an exclusive one-night gig with Jockstrap, Genesis Owusu, Blu DeTiger and more – find out the full details here.
Elsewhere, across bars, venues and clubs across the city, emerging talent will be looking to make a name for themselves with killer sets in front of industry and music fans alike. Here’s the 10 unmissable new names to check out at this week’s gathering.
Words: Erica Campbell, Thomas Smith, Sophie Williams
Who: 2023’s new great alt-rock hope
Where to see them: Radio Day Stage at Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center – Mar 16, 1pm; Mohawk Indoor – Mar 16, 3:30pm; Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater – Mar 16, 7pm; Swan Dive Patio – Mar 17, 10pm
Look out for: The buzz around Sabrina Teitelbaum’s upcoming debut as Blondshell is ever-growing; given that the album is due out in April, these appearances at SXSW are well-timed, and could be the final chance to see her in venues of this size.
Key track: ‘Veronica Mars’ TS
Who: New York-based, Texas-raised 19-year-old using the 2010s as a musical blueprint
Where to see them: Mohawk Outdoor – Mar 16, 11pm; Lustre Pear – Mar 17, 2pm
Look out for: Jadagu is blossoming into a mightily talented performer. Having studied the music industry at college, last year she took a year out to head out on tour with Faye Webster and more, and learned hands-on about how to make an impact. Upcoming debut ‘Aperture’, due in May on Sub Pop, is shaping up to be special.
Key track: ‘Say It Now’ TS
Who: Grunge rock’s most charismatic – and confident – new gang
Where to see them: Seven Grand – March 16, 11.45pm; Clive Bar – March 17, 2pm; Swan Dive Patio – March 18, 12am
Look out for: Enumclaw are firm believers in the idea that success is determined by your own confidence. “The best band since Oasis” reads the Tacoma four-piece’s Twitter bio, and with a slick, smart and adventurous debut album in ‘Save The Baby’ to their name, the band are determined to spread the gospel with a string of live shows at SXSW 2023.
Key track: ‘2002’ SW
Who: An old-school NYC buzz prospect
Where to see them: The Creek and The Crave Backyard – Mar 19, 1:15am
Look out for: Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, but The Life – aka DJ and curator Curtis Everett Prawley – are, yes, intent on bringing the swagger back to Manhattan’s party scene. It’d appear trite if their only single to date, ‘Grace’, wasn’t so potent; support slots with The 1975 and Beach Fossils suggest there’s legs to the sound (again).
Key track: ‘Grace’ TS
Who: Noisy trio from Chicago making retro-punk modern
Where to see them: Chess Club – Mar 17, 8:40pm
Look out for: The Midwest outfit may cite acts like Television and Tortoise as inspiration but their brash si=ound remains decidedly current. Their recent album ‘Dive’ is a perfect example of their rock prowess, with the band executing thrilling and deafening rock that lives somewhere between timeless and contemporary.
Key track: ‘Thinking’ EC
Who: Brooklyn-born rapper resurrecting hip-hop’s golden era
Where to see them: Moody Amphitheatre at Waterloo Park – Mar 16, 7:45pm
Look out for: The New York rap star may have found fame from a viral TiKTok hit, but she cut her teeth listening to legacy acts like Lil Kim and DMX long before social media came into play. Brooke’s unique bars and delivery move hip-hop forward while also paying homage to the past, stoking rumours that she’s Brooklyn’s next groundbreaking MC.
Key track: ‘Don’t Play With It’ EC
Who: Electrifying and experimental hardcore hopefuls from LA
Where to see them: Elysium – March 18, 11pm
Look out for: Alongside their peers Scowl and Drain, this five-piece are part of a shit-hot new hardcore scene that’s currently bubbling up over on the West Coast. Militarie Gun’s live CV includes an incendiary appearance at Manchester’s Outbreak festival last year – and they’ll certainly be bringing the same level of chaos (and stage invasions) to this year’s SXSW.
Key track: ‘Do It Faster’ SW
Who: Gnarly guitarist making ambitious, introspective anthems
Where to see them: Half Step – Mar 16, 12am
Look out for: NME aptly described the NYC-based songwriter’s 2021 EP, ‘Imposter’ as “a reflective collection brimming with confidence”. Margaret Sohn has a penchant for going inward and on their debut LP, 2022’s ‘Follow The Cyborg’ they go even deeper, merging synthpop and distorted vocals into inventive guitar ballads, all while keeping the lyrics contemplative and complex.
Key track: ‘Imposter’ EC
Who: A beacon of hope within the UK drum ‘n’ bass underground
Where to see them: 3TEN – March 15, 7.30pm
Look out for: Even upon arrival, Chatham-raised artist Venbee seemed destined for a bright, bright future. The 22-year-old, born Erin Doyle, earned a Top 3 chart placement last year with her debut single, ‘Messy In Heaven’, which features the remarkable, arresting line: “I heard Jesus did cocaine on a night out”. Expect to hear fans bellowing that lyric back to her.
Key track: ‘Messy In Heaven’ SW
Who: Soulster with smoky vocals and sultry production
Where to see them: KMFA Radio – Mar 16, 3pm
Look out for: The East London-raised songwriter recently dropped her album ‘Voice Notes’ infusing jazz, electronica and soul into a slow-burning debut. The LP features stunning production Lacey’s distinctive vocals and proves her knack for ruminative storytelling all through songs that exist somewhere between jazz and R&B – never completely titling into just one genre.
Key track: ‘Bad Company’ EC
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